On May 29th, 143 dedicated Veteran hikers gathered in Pittsburgh, PA for the first time ever this year to hike for the Irreverent Warrior cause - prevent Veteran suicide through connection, camaraderie, and humor.
VET Tv is the proud National Sponsor for Irreverent Warriors in 2021. In addition to a $25,000 donation matching initiative, every ticket to an IW Silkies Hike comes with a free month subscription to VET Tv. REDEEM yours using code 2021PITTSBURG.
The start and endpoint of our hike was Heinz Field - home of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a Pittsburgh landmark. It's a commonly unknown fact that the city of Pittsburgh has the 4th largest Veteran population in the country, meaning the military history is strong. The hike made several stops along the way at several war memorials: World War I Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and Pittsburgh's Korean War Memorial. The hike's second to last stop was at the Federal Building, which houses the OIF and OEF memorials.
The hike wound all through downtown through the heart of the city, touching on the North Shore and the South Side. Hikers got to experience plenty of local flavor with lunch at Primantis, a famous local spot, and at our Homerun Harry's stop on the South Side, a famous restaurant located in the historic Station Square Building.
"This was epic!"
The mission of every IW hike is the same – prevent Veteran suicide by bringing Vets together with humor and camaraderie. This hike was one moment of just that, but there were a few too good not to mention.
There were over 75 first-time hikers attending this year, and watching them all meet and form connections was inspiring, to say the last.
There were emotional moments and moments of reflection, too. Our lead coordinator lost one of his childhood friends and brothers a few years ago, and he got to see his friend's name on the OIF KIA memorial for the first time. It was a tough moment, but being surrounded by family who understand loss makes all of it just a little bit easier.
While there were tough moments, there were also some bright, funny, awe-inspiring moments. Ron Ritenour and his brother Dan deserve a special shoutout here - two older Veterans that single-handedly seemed to keep the entire group laughing hysterically the entire hike.
Our coordinating team was overwhelmed with hikers expressing how grateful they were for the hike, and countless first-time hikers were incredulous they hadn't known about Silkies hikes before. We had over 140 hikers our first year - and we're looking to double that number next year!
Huge shout out to a few local businesses that made this hike possible with their support and donations.
Primantis- for their donation of our great lunch.
D&O Winery - for the use of their space for our Meet & Greet before the hike!
Iron City Beer & Pittsburgh Brewing Company - for donating supplies.
This hike would not have been possible without our other amazing sponsors & donors.
Veteran Television (VET Tv) - our National Presenting Sponsor this year who donated Free Silkies to giveaway at the hike, and handed out a free month of VET Tv (seriously, did you redeem yours yet?? 2021PITTSBURG) to every hiker.
Heinz Field - for allowing the use of their space for our step-off and ending point.
Market Square - for hosting us one on our stops along the way.
Homerun Harry's - for sponsoring a stop and making us feel so welcome!
Who Made it Possible
Mali- Lead Coordinator
Dan Maillard (USMC)- National Coordinator
Josh (USMC) - Assistant Coordinator
Kaycee (National Guard) - Assistant Coordinator
Trevor (USMC)- Assistant Coordinator
JOIN THE DEBAUCHERY
If you're looking for more hikes to attend this year (we certainly wouldn't blame you) you can find events in your area on the Irreverent Warriors website.
97% of the proceeds we raise at Irreverent Warriors goes directly to our mission - prevent Veteran suicide through connection, camaraderie, and humor. We're not into spreading awareness - we're into making a difference.
One Shared MissionaVET Tv is the proud National Sponsor for Irreverent Warriors in 2021. In addition to a $25,000 donation matching initiative, every ticket to an IW Silkies Hike comes with a free month subscription to VET Tv.
***Blog Photo Credit*** The photos used in this blog are photos collected from those shared by hikers, coordinators, volunteers, and attendees of Silkies Hikes. If you'd like individual credit for a photo that shared, please reach out at email@example.com so we can accredit it.